Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 105, Issue 1, pp 229–259

Uncertainty Assessment of Voc Emissions from Paint in the Netherlands Using the Nusap System

  • Jeroen P. Van Der Sluijs
  • James S. Risbey
  • Jerry Ravetz

DOI: 10.1007/s10661-005-3697-7

Cite this article as:
Sluijs, J.P.V.D., Risbey, J.S. & Ravetz, J. Environ Monit Assess (2005) 105: 229. doi:10.1007/s10661-005-3697-7


We demonstrate an innovative approach to uncertainty assessment known as the NUSAP system, to assess qualitative and quantitative uncertainty for the case of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) from paint in The Netherlands. Using expert elicitation, we identified key sources of error, critical assumptions, and bias in the monitoring process. We assessed pedigree and probabilistic uncertainty of all input quantities. We used four pedigree criteria to assess the strength of the knowledge base: proxy representation, empirical basis, methodological rigour and degree of validation. Using Monte Carlo analysis, we assessed sensitivity and propagation of uncertainty. Results for sensitivity and pedigree were combined in a ‘NUSAP Diagnostic Diagram’, which effectively highlighted the assumption for VOC percentage of imported paint as the weakest spot in the monitoring of VOC emissions. We conclude that NUSAP facilitates systematic scrutinization of method and underlying assumptions and structures creative thinking on sources of error and bias. It provides a means to prioritise uncertainties and focus research efforts on the potentially most problematic parameters and assumptions, at the same time identifying specific weaknesses in the knowledge base. With NUSAP, nuances of meaning about quantities can be conveyed concisely and clearly, to a degree that is not possible with statistic methods only.


data quality emission monitoring NUSAP pedigree quality control quality evaluation uncertainty VOC 

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeroen P. Van Der Sluijs
    • 1
  • James S. Risbey
    • 2
  • Jerry Ravetz
    • 3
  1. 1.Copernicus Institute for Sustainable Development and InnovationUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  2. 2.School of Mathematical SciencesMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  3. 3.Research Methods ConsultancyLondonUK

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